By Doug Magill
That crackling sound you hear comes from necks snapping in surprise, the necks of millions of menu Catholics who supported Barak Obama. They have been heard across this land of the less free over the past couple of weeks. Followed shortly by bewildered gasps of “wha….???”
Before the president’s election the “choose which portion of the Church’s teaching we’ll follow this week” group smugly bought his hollow promises of oceans receding and a new age of bipartisan goodwill. And found a way to rationalize his support for abortion and his association with anti-American radicals, expressing the dewy-eyed hope that his post-election actions would match his soaring rhetoric.
Certainly the Catholic hierarchy did. Rev. John Jenkins, a Congregation of the Holy Cross priest, an Oxford doctor of philosophy and a graduate of the rigorous Jesuit School of Theology showed more idealism than political sense when he invited Obama to give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in 2009. Enduring months of protest, hopeful Catholics listened to a president who promised a “sensible” approach to the conscience clause and earnestly talked about a “presumption of good faith”, leaving Jenkins and the rest of the Notre Dame faithful believing that Catholic institutions would be exempted from whatever “health care” mandates were to come.
The erudite university president now appears to be just another dupe caught in Obama’s wake after the latest brazenly anti-Catholic edict from the Department of Health and Human Services. Commissar Kathleen Sebelius is herself a Catholic often in trouble with the Church over her strident pro-abortion views. Adding insult to injury the ruling was issued three days before the annual Right To Life march in Washington, D.C.
The Catholic vice president, Joe Biden, was instrumental in working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the conscience clause so explicitly ignored by Sebelius. The head of the conference, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan personally worked with the administration, meeting with Obama in November to discuss exemptions for conscience in the forthcoming HHS ruling. Despite being reassured by his conversation with the president, the now-betrayed Dolan was told no concessions were ever contemplated in a frantic follow up phone call after the ruling.
Just before Obama’s Notre Dame speech, HHS ended funding in Massachusetts for Catholic programs helped victims of human trafficking. HHS claimed a heretofore unheard-of standard policy that offered funding only to programs that offered a full range of services – meaning abortion. All that despite objections from its own employees, and an independent review-board rating that the program was more effective than others.
As in so many things associated with the proto-socialists in the Obama administration, expansion of government control matters more than efficiency, or effectiveness. And, those who will be hurt by the now clear bias against Catholicism will be the poor, and those most in need of protection and assistance. But, in Obama’s transformational view, helping those who need it most matters less than making sure that the orthodoxy prevails.
Now understanding the mendacity of the man, Archbishop Dolan launched a blistering attack on the president and the administration, calling recent HHS rulings an “assault which now appears to grow at an ever-accelerating pace in ways that most of us could never have imagined.” Which led to a letter decrying this ruling. It was issued by all of the bishops and directed to be read aloud to their parishes. Some bishops went further, calling the HHS ruling “an extraordinary attack against religious liberty.”
The federal mandate, intended to cover “preventative care”, requires all religious health and social service providers including schools, hospitals and charities to provide birth control, sterilization, and morning-after abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. Exclusions are so narrow as to leave most religious organizations no option other than destructive fines.
Leaving aside why we all should be forced to have our premiums increased to pay for insurance that offers these things “free” to other subscribers (and why liberals are so invested in the consequence-less promiscuity of all – especially teenagers), why is the administration fomenting a war on religion at this time? And, why should any religious organization be forced to pay for something so clearly outside its beliefs?
Of course, there is a blatantly political one-year waiting period (conveniently timed until after the election).
The administration was dealt a thunderous rebuke in the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling. The Supreme Court voted, 9 – 0, that a Michigan teacher who had been dismissed from her ministerial duties couldn’t claim that they were really secular responsibilities and subject to federal rulings. An important and significant case, telling the administration to butt out of interfering with religious rights. Ignoring the clear message – in this case that religious beliefs and vocations are not subject to the micro-managing whims of government bureaucrats – the administration plunged ahead with the insurance mandate.
Many commentators explain that the ruling is intended to garner liberal-wing support for Obama. That’s too simple. He already has their support, and wouldn’t lose it if he delayed this ruling further or even backed off of it. And, this ruling only marginally increases the availability of birth control. Yet it is enormous in its implications.
Undoubtedly, the ruling pleased liberal interest groups which are hostile to the Catholic Church and the enormous range of charitable services it provides. It effectively demarcates as secular heretofore religious services such as serving the poor and tending to the sick. These pursuits then become subject to the whims and control of government. It is hard to imagine that Christ himself would have agreed with that vision.
There has not been as blatantly an anti-Catholic action by the government since the Blaine Amendment in 1875. It is astonishing to think that a group that considers itself as forward-thinking as the liberal democratic party reverting to 19th century norms. But it is.
Oblivious as well to the effect on the lives of those people whose jobs are at stake here, the president is, in effect, placing his administration in judgment of which missions are religious, an ever-narrowing band that will effectively allow government regulation and control of more areas of public service. And allow him to effectively dictate what morality consists of.
His distorted reference to the gospel of Luke in last week’s prayer meeting breakfast was an egregious example of Obama’s desire to have the state arrogate to itself the role heretofore played by religion in public life.
His hijacked biblical quote, ”We are our brother’s keeper” is intended to insert government in the role of managing charity, not individuals. Christ never intimated that government should do anything, only those of us with souls. Yet, for Obama, his desire is to place government as the ultimate arbiter of what is religious, and moral, and have all of us outsource our concern about such things to a bureaucratic machine which surely would never be considered to have a soul.
This biblical rationalization is all the more insulting, coming from a man who listened to a rabid, anti-American distortion of theology for 20 years and casually claimed he wasn’t really listening. And, once he was in office avoided public worship until now, when his reelection campaign is in motion. The arrogance is breathtaking.
Biblical cribbing aside, Obama’s declaration of war on Catholics has a pedagogic point. In all of his speeches he uses straw men and crafted bogey-men to illustrate a point or to arouse baser passions to win an argument. Coupled with his class-baiting fulminations about the one percent, he wishes to marginalize opponents and distract attention from his real agenda. Now he wishes to engage Catholics as a real enemy, to further inflame the left wing of the country, and those who may lean left and distrust religion in general. Knowing as well that many of the moist-eyed idealists in the Church will rationalize this away in the rapture of moral self-righteousness that Obama is hoping they will associate with him.
A number of Muslim imams have taken umbrage at this ruling, and are declaring their resistance to this ruling. Evangelicals have not been as vocal in opposition, as they usually are more circumspect in issues such as abortion in order to protect their support from liberals.
All religions should be afraid. As should most private charities. It will go further.
Numerous studies that show access to contraception and abortion does not reduce abortion rates. Despite that, Washington State legislators have introduced a bill that would force private health insurance plans to provide abortion coverage throughout all stages of pregnancy. Expanding the concept of “moral equivalence” beyond all recognition the bill would require insurers to provide “substantially equivalent coverage” for abortion. How one could equate live birth with the killing of a fetus at any stage is surely so morally twisted as to be repugnant. It appears that in Washington it is not.
This is the extreme to which Obama’s supporters wish to push us. Morally equating childbirth with abortion, and forcing all of us to accept that definition. And making us pay for it in our insurance premiums as well.
What it cannot achieve through elections, modern liberalism seeks to impose by judicial or executive fiat in ways large and small with the intent of forever diminishing the liberty for which our founding fathers fought. This is ultimately tyranny.
Madison understood it, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
With the latest ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services this assault has been taken to new levels, and cannot be sustained. Our ancestors and our children demand no less.
Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org